Doing acupuncture during the first trimester is not only safe, but it can effectively treat a number of conditions. Some of these conditions include:
Morning Sickness: Hormonal changes are the reason for pregnant women to feel morning sickness. The main culprit is hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin), a hormone produce by the placenta. Estrogen, another hormone that increases during pregnancy, is also responsible for the nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. Several studies have shown that acupuncture can help treat morning sickness. A study done with 593 pregnant women concluded that: "Acupuncture is an effective treatment for women who experience nausea and dry retching in early pregnancy".
Fatigue: During the first trimester the body is using a lot of energy to maintain the pregnancy. Lots of energy and resources go to create the placenta, increase blood supply, and secrete the right amount of hormone to maintain the pregnancy until the placenta is ready. All of this takes an incredible amount of energy, leaving the mother-to-be exhausted. Acupuncture can be very effective in helping the body recover some of this energy. Several studies have found acupuncture to be very effective in dealing with fatigue. A systematic review that looked at 16 randomized controlled trials with more than 1,300 subjects, concluded that: "Acupuncture appeared to significantly reduce fatigue severity measured by Chalder’s Fatigue Scale and the Fatigue Severity Scale compared with other types of control".
Headaches: Hormones and an increase in blood supply are typically the cause of headaches during the first trimester of pregnancy. In addition, stress can create tension headaches, further aggravating the situation. Headaches, especially if they are rooted in stress or hormonal changes, can safely be treated with acupuncture. Several studies have confirmed that acupuncture is not only effective to treat headaches, but also safe during pregnancy. A study titled: “The safety of acupuncture for migraine prevention during pregnancy” concluded that: “Our preliminary data indicate that acupuncture may be safe during pregnancy in women with migraine”.
Threatened Miscarriage: A threatened miscarriage is when there is vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. One study found that of the 25% of pregnant women that had experienced vaginal bleeding in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, 60% of them continued with their pregnancy to full term. While small falls or car accidents during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause threatened miscarriage, stress is also documented as one of the leading causes. A study published in 2016 titled: "Does acupuncture have a role in the treatment of threatened miscarriage?" found that women receiving acupuncture experienced a statistically significant reduction with threatened miscarriage symptoms including bleeding, cramping and back pain compared with the control group. The study concluded by saying that: "Acupuncture was a feasible intervention and reduced threatened miscarriage symptoms when compared to a touch intervention and medical self-care advice".
Most pregnant women would agree that the second trimester is the easiest one. By this time the energy is back and the morning sickness is gone. Because every pregnancy and every woman is different, there are cases where some of the symptoms seen during the first trimester don't completely go away during the second trimester. In those cases, continuing with weekly acupuncture is recommended, otherwise, an acupuncture treatment once per month should suffice.
As the baby continues to grow, it is possible to start seeing some conditions that could make the mother and the baby uncomfortable or even unsafe if not treated.
Breech Presentations *: Most babies turn head-first before week 36. By your 35-week scan, you should know if your baby is breech. Acupuncture and moxibustion have been found to be effective in helping move a breech baby. A study published by The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, titled "Acupuncture plus moxibustion to resolve breech presentation: a randomized controlled study" concluded that: "Acupuncture plus moxibustion is more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth."
Late Pregnancy *: Full term babies are born between 39 weeks and 40 weeks and 6 days. Late term babies are born between 41 weeks and 41 weeks and 6 days. Post term babies are born at 42 weeks or later. Because of the risks to the mother and baby associated with post term pregnancy, most OB/GYN will induce before week 42. There is plenty of research supporting the effect of acupuncture to induce labor. One of these studies, published by the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, concluded that: "Although the definitive role of acupuncture in inducing labor is still yet to be established, the existing studies suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial in labor induction".
Pre-eclampsia: Simply put, this condition is defined as high blood pressure that is over 140/90, with high levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria), and fluid retention. This is a very serious condition potentially leading to long-term health issues if left untreated. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure. A study published in 2016 concluded that: "Patients in the acupuncture group had significantly lower BP at time of delivery, and postpartum, than patients in the control group".
Low back and/or pelvic: It is not unusual to experience either low back pain or pelvic pain or both during the 3rd trimester. This is mainly due to the extra weight that the mother is carrying. A systematic review and meta-analysis that looked at 10 randomized controlled trials to see the effectiveness of acupuncture for relieving low back and/or pelvic pain (LBPP) during the pregnancy concluded that: "Acupuncture significantly improved pain, functional status and quality of life in women with LBPP during the pregnancy".
Initial visit (includes treatment): $180
Subsequent treatments: $90
* There is no Initial Visit fee for Labor Induction or Breech Presentation appointments, just the treatment cost of $90,
Does acupuncture have a role in the treatment of threatened miscarriage? Findings from a feasibility randomised trial and semi-structured participant interviews